I believe that when you visit a theatre performance the actors should beckon the audience to the point of which they are transfixed in the enchanting world of the production, no matter how unrealistic. The actors should be able to steal our thoughts and make us enraptured in their words. I feel that Tommy Steele failed to deliver! In contrast the production of “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” had precisely the desired effect; the main actor in this production was Shane Richie whom played the role of Randle Patrick McMurphy. Unlike in Tommy Steele’s performance Shane Richie used different vocal tones that helped reflect perfectly upon his characters personality; these tones helped the audience to conjure up McMurphy’s feelings and emotions throughout different parts of the play.
The characters emotions were indeed so evident that they became extremely contagious, for example when McMurphy felt happy it made the audience smile and when he was upset or angered the audience felt this too he filled us with anticipation of what he would do next! His character became so believable that I couldn’t stop myself from becoming convinced that Shane Ritchie was indeed Mr. McMurphy! This is how a performer should be yet in Doctor Dolittle there were no panic points and the mood although merry and joyful became dull and boring as it was so unvarying. We never saw the emotions of any characters and no matter the situation Tommy Steele would constantly have an irritating smile upon his face contributing further to the ruin of the performance!
When discussing further Tommy Steele’s shabby performance I must mention the constant mistakes he would make upon the script. Maybe again this was due to first night nerves but as stated previously this cannot be tolerated! There were indeed a few specific moments where I felt he in particular let the audience down. One of these moments was when the Doctor was saying his farewell to his new friend Sophie Seal…at this point Steele referred to the seal as “Polynesia” which was the name of the Parrot in the production; he soon realized his aberration and hesitated trying to re-say the name instead of simply continuing.
If he had have just carried on this would have masked his mistake, yet the fact he floundered upon the blunder made it much more obvious! There were other moments when problems in the script arose this was quite often too, Tommy Steele from time to time kept pausing unnecessarily and it appeared he was missing out lines at one point the script mistakes he made actually distracted from the script itself. Another thing that distracted me as a viewer was the ridiculous facial expressions made by Steele, the doctor is a happy person but Tommy Steele just couldn’t stop smiling he would be having an argument with Miss Fairfax yet he would smile uncontrollably throughout this made it so there was no tension build up between characters which was very disappointing.
Another key moment when he slipped up was in the scene when himself and Miss Fairfax were talking about their relationship and started laughing I feel in this specific moment both characters let us down as they became out of role. Also I noticed that during the performance sometimes Tommy Steele would stare at the audience stopping his interaction with the actors on stage this also detracted from his conversations. Finally, close to the end of the production Dr. Dolittle is saying goodbye to Miss Fairfax and he has his back to the audience; also he becomes upstaged by Miss Fairfax which seemed very unprofessional.
Miss Emma Fairfax as I have mentioned before was not played professionally. There was a monotone woodness about the whole character that forced me into thinking the actress was terribly cast! The main storyline that comes with this character is the relationship she builds with Dr. Dolittle himself. I find this area of the script quite disturbing. Miss Fairfax in around twenty four years of age whereas he is seventy they form a sexual relationship which to me is quite perverse and shouldn’t be encouraged as being normal in society. This relationship caused the love scene to be completely unconvincing and bizarre.
Tommy Steele couldn’t help the fact that in the script there were un-witty jokes and though I don’t particularly rate his performance there are some things that he and his cast could not help. I am specifically drawn to the scene where Dr. Dolittle is freeing Sophie the Seal and throwing her into the sea. There was a semi transparent curtain with the projected effect of the sea; this curtain was dropped across the down-stage area whilst the doctor and the seal were up-stage. At this point Dr. Dolittle throws Sophie into the ocean yet he throws her further upstage instead of down-stage where the ocean is set to be.
This is obviously some fault with scenery and younger children would probably not have been distracted by this yet I saw it as a little strange and I think that the stage could have been used more efficiently and realistically at this point. Also at the start of the production when the scene is set in the Doctors Office his pet pig was sat on the sofa. Tommy Stubbins sat on the pig during a song which was quite absurd, he himself may have got his stage directions wrong but it looked like it was all choreographed this confused me a little.
Another flaw was the during the shipwreck, after the storm took place Miss Fairfax was stripped of her dress and left in just her under garment, she had disheveled hair and lost her trunk of clothes whereas Dr. Dolittle is not wet and still fully clothed the play is supposed to be larger than life yet this inconsistency makes the performance appear amateur. There was also another costume fault that seemed odd, this was the fact that Miss Fairfax wore four different dresses during the performance, this is understandable and shows some variation in costume as the musical is set over a period of five years; yet Dr. Dolittle has no costume changes which to me was quite inconsistent and inconsiderate of the performance.
Although there were these mistakes made some fabulous special effects were used that in a sense conquered over the blunders! An example of a time where special effects were well used was during the shipwreck scene; it was simple yet effective some sound effects were used along with ….. which created an exciting combination! Also I found the way the scene changes were masked quite impressive there would be a curtain dropped with detail projected on or a short clip then when the curtain was lifted the next scene would be all set out and the cast ready to start performing! This routine was especially used well in the circus scene; the circus scene was one of my three favorite parts. It started with a detailed curtain reading “Blossoms Mammoth Circus” which was lifted to reveal the amazing scene!
There was a backdrop of red curtains and podium levels spaced across the stage for the animals to perform on! I feel this scene is the most extravagant and by far the strongest scene, it is extremely entertaining and visually exciting! There were circus clowns wearing stripy trousers with blue hair and acrobats whose shimmering bright red costumes stayed a beautiful color, not looking at all insipid amongst the light! The most impressive costumes of all though were those of the dancers they wore amazingly bright and colorful skirts, they were of a decent length so weren’t at all restricting they created an element of fantasy. The skirts reminded me personally of something you would see in a Disney film, they added to and enhanced the dances and the dancer’s movement it was all very spectacular and fun to see!
Another of my favorite parts was the scene before the circus where the “Pushmi-pullyu” arrived in the huge wooden box the fact we didn’t at first know what it was created a bigger impact and gets the audience excited and filled with anticipation. The box was placed downstage right and when it was opened we soon were amazed by the extremely real looking crazy animal! The realism of both the puppets and the human actors as animals was something that was really effective within this play. The best human animal actor that stood out for me was James Deverell whom played Jip the dog he moved very realistically as a dog would and did so well to stay in the claustrophobic costume for the amount of time he did! One of the electrically animated puppets that really caught my attention was the horse, it was an animal created using animatronics, it was very believable and exciting especially for the younger audience!